We fly out to meet In­dian su­per­star Man­deep Singh

San­deep Singh looks for­ward to the start of the star-stud­ded Hockey In­dia League

The Hockey Paper - - NEWS -

PLAYED un­der the shadow of a global eco­nomic slow­down and cash crunch in In­dia due to the de­mon­eti­sa­tion of the cur­rency’s two big­gest bills, the Hockey In­dia League as­pires to be launch pad for hockey fes­tiv­i­ties in the new year.

With in­ter­est in hockey peak­ing in the af­ter­math of In­dia’s ti­tle win in the FIH Men’s Ju­nior World Cup, the or­gan­is­ers and fran­chise own­ers are hope­ful of the league at­tract­ing a huge au­di­ence.

Seek­ing to pro­mote field goals to en­hance the at­trac­tion of hockey, the Hockey In­dia League last sea­son de­vised the rule of field goals count­ing for two goals. The full im­pres­sion of this rule on the spec­ta­tors be­came ev­i­dent to­ward the last stages of the com­pe­ti­tion last sea­son.

This rule of two goals for ev­ery open-play strike is the rea­son top dol­lars are now be­ing paid by the fran­chise own­ers for strik­ers – com­pared to de­fend­ers and penalty cor­ner shoot­ers.

To be pre­cise, the Hockey In­dia League’s score­books will record two goals for ev­ery field goal, as well as goals scored through a penalty stroke that gets awarded when a de­lib­er­ate foul pre­vents a goal on a penalty cor­ner shot.

With just eight for­eign play­ers per­mit­ted in each squad, the fran­chise own­ers are be­ing ex­tremely se­lec­tive and there will be ad­di­tional pres­sure on the boys to de­liver.

One player who can play with­out feel­ing any pres­sure is Ash­ley Jack­son, who last year cap­tained Ranchi Rays, the team co-owned by In­dian crick­eter Ma­hen­dra Singh Dhoni, who quit the cap­taincy of the In­dian team for the one-day in­ter­na­tion­als against the tour­ing Eng­land side start­ing this week.

Hav­ing led In­dia in 199 lim­ite­dover in­ter­na­tion­als, Dhoni has quit as the coun­try’s most suc­cess­ful cap­tain, but will still play in the one-day­ers against Eng­land.

Many of the Ranchi Rays play­ers closely fol­low the cricket and it could lead to an in­ter­est­ing de­bate with Jack­son, says In­dian na­tional squad’s cen­tre-half Man­preet Singh, who plays along­side Jack­son in the Ranchi squad.

“Ash­ley fol­lows cricket very closely and many a time he brings to the ta­ble what Dhoni would do with his cricket team. Apart from keep­ing the team to­gether as one unit, Ash­ley tells us that we need to have Dhoni’s win­ning spirit even when we con­cede early goals,” says Man­preet, adding that try­ing to em­u­late Dhoni’s fa­mous he­li­copter shot was one of the favourite pas­times of the Ranchi Rays hockey team.

The league will fea­ture some of the world’s top hockey stars, but young In­dian strik­ers – Man­deep Singh, Sim­ran­jeet Singh and Gur­jant Singh – will be keenly watched by the home fans as their prow­ess against sea­soned play­ers will be judged by the num­ber of field goals they can score.

Fea­tur­ing six teams, the league will run un­til the ti­tle en­counter on Fe­bru­ary 26.

Star turn: Man­deep Singh is one of the com­pe­ti­tion’s big­gest crowd pullers

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.